Wind painting

Deep in the wastes of Mauritania in the southwestern reaches of the Sahara Desert an astronaut aboard the Space Station snapped these stripes of orangey yellow sand overlaying the darker tan to grey background landscape, revealing the seasonally dominant wind direction and the load of sediment that it carried and deposited when it ran out of steam. Each grain is progressively carried further as the wind continues rather than making a single long journey, with many resting places seeing a pause on the long journey. The overall impression though is of Nature’s paintbrush busy at work, creating the everyday beauty of our lovely (and only) Home.


Image credit: Tim Peake

Fun Fact 146

Illegal plastic bag smuggling has become a lucrative market in some African countries like Rwanda. Numerous African countries including Mauritania, Rwanda, Tunisia, Cameroon, Mali, Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Botswana, Somalia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Morocco all have partial or full bans on the manufacture, use and import of plastic bags. Many of these countries are made up of pastoralists, fishermen and farmers and plastic bags pose a significant threat to their animals and the environment on which they’re reliant.

The above image of Mauritania, the Eye of the Sahara, is one of the photographs included in the latest book from retired astronaut Chris Hadfield. 

The Richat Structure, aka the Eye of the Sahara and Guelb er Richat, is a prominent circular feature near Ouadane, Mauritania. This structure is a deeply eroded, slightly elliptical, 40 km in diameter dome. The sedimentary rock exposed in this dome ranges in age from Late Proterozoic within the center of the dome to Ordovician sandstone around its edges.